Why are you walking so close to me? It’s just you, and me, and this vast stretch of lonely sidewalk that empties into the horizon. I have my dance space, you have your dance space, and yet you’re always all up in my dance space, Boston. What it is with you? You are walking faster than me, it’s true, but there’s plenty of room for you to pass me. Six feet or more in which to pass. The width of a small football field in which to pass.
And yet, here you are again, half a foot behind me. I cannot see you, though I can feel your hot breath on the back of my neck. Common sense tells me that no one walks this close, in my blind spot, on a virtually empty sidewalk, unless he or she is about to take my purse. But when I stop and turn to the side, forcing you to pass, it startles you. It turns out you were just plodding along, innocently, mere inches from my spine.
I know you don’t mean any harm, and you seem like such a nice city, and you obviously have no designs on my purse, but please stop it. You’re creeping me out.
After work, we head out for dinner. Conversation turns to the convention.
Pal 1: Who do you want for VP?
Pal 2: My money’s on Edwards.
Pal 3: Yeah. But you know what bugs me about Edwards? He bends at the wrist when he’s making a fist.
P3: You know, when he makes a fist to make a point? His wrist bends back. It looks weird. Like he’s trying to make this strong point, and his wrists are all bent. Little thing, I know.
P1: But this is how people think.
P2: I would want him to lead our country, but…
P1: …he does that freaky thing with his wrists.
I go downstairs to take my security photo. The result is not flattering. The security guy looks it over.
SG: You know, I’m sure you hear this all the time. You look just like that one lady.
Me: … No. Which lady?
SG: The first lady?
Me: Laura Bush?
SG: Nooo! From a long time ago.
Me: (Eleanor Roosevelt? Lady Bird Johnson? Dolley Madison?) Uhh…
SG: You know the one. The president was, like, young? And they had kids? And he got shot?
Me: You mean JFK.
SG: That’s it! You look like the JFK first lady!
Me: Jackie Kennedy.
SG: Yeah! Yeah.
Me: Well, that’s a flattering thing to say to a Democrat.
SG: Yeah. You get that a lot?
SG: Well, you look just like that lady.
So, I’ve worked with interns and “assistants” before. You know the ones. The ones who are reduced to tears because the copy machine needs toner. The ones who surf the Web all day, because their mom is your boss and you can’t fire them anyway. The overeager ones who want to take on important projects, but can’t seem to alphabetize correctly.
The interns around here aren’t like that. They meet you with files full of the information you were about to spend hours gathering. They say things like, “I thought you might need this when you arrived, so I’ve been keeping a database.” They smile and nod politely when you ask them to do something mundane. They’re efficient, bright, focused, and just a little bit creepy. Perhaps that’s because I’m bracing for a coup.
I’ve slept two of the last 48 hours. About an hour ago, I realized that I needed to start concentrating on breathing, because I seemed to be forgetting here and there. Also, I’ve had pizza three meals in a row.
Last night, I flew in on a red eye to Boston. I unpacked my ridiculously large bags, and headed over to the Democratic National Convention headquarters. I’ll be working here for the next month.
My hosting service sends out a monthly newsletter. This month, the hosting service decided to start supporting a worthy cause, and they’re enthusiastic about it. I know because the newsletter reads:
“New DreamHost Charity: Leukemia!”
Apparently, Leukemia is something we should all be excited about.
Every Sunday this month, everything at the Goodwill thrift store is 50 percent off. I wait about fifteen minutes for a dressing room. Before I get in, the clerk clears everything out. Everything, that is, except for a single boot. That boot is in the corner, soaking in a puddle of urine. I notice it a few minutes into trying on clothes, and come out of the dressing room horrified. A woman with a baby stroller tries to push in after me.
“I’d wait for the next one,” I say. “There’s pee in the corner.”
She considers this, peeks in, waits until she thinks I’m far enough away to have forgotten about her, then enters anyway. With her baby. I approach the sales clerk.
“Someone peed in the dressing room,” I say. “You should call someone to come and clean it up.”
“Huh,” he says. “Yeah.”
Then he goes back to hanging clothes.
I go home and shower twice.